Is DST Worth The Hassle?

by Curt Kovener

Show of hands: Who among you forgot to set your clocks ahead one hour before bed Saturday and were late for church the following morning?
Don’t be embarrassed. Dozens of area families likely got a late start. Daylight-saving time began at 2 a.m. this past Sunday, and, all these years later, some Hoosiers still aren’t used to it.
Indiana started its statewide observance of DST 12 years ago when now Purdue President Mitch Daniels was in the Governor’s Office. And though we’ve heard anecdotes of more time for evening recreation and increases in business activity, a 2008 study claims daylight-saving time is costing Hoosiers money.
University of California-Santa Barbara economics professor Matthew Kotchen and student Laura Grant analyzed 7 million meter readings of Indiana homes served by Duke Energy Corp. They found DST costs Hoosiers an extra $8.6 million in energy bills each year.
Higher air-conditioning costs in the summer and additional home-heating costs during spring and fall mornings are to blame, the study’s authors said.
A 2007 study of the temporary extension of daylight-saving time in two Australian territories also found increases in energy consumption, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Now, we won’t suggest Indiana do away with DST, or ask the U.S. Department of Transportation to put the majority of the state on Central Time. With Chicago to our northwest, Louisville to our south and Cincinnati at our southeast, those cities’ Hoosier commuters never will be happy about the time.
Besides, after several counties changed time zones, only to ask the transportation secretary to switch them back again, we doubt the secretary’s office will ever take another call from an Indiana official.
But the UC-Santa Barbara study should compel the federal government to study DST’s effects on U.S. energy usage. The government also should determine whether daylight-saving time reduces crime and traffic fatalities, as its proponents claim. “Springing forward” the second Sunday in March and “falling back” the first Sunday in November might not be worth the costs or the hassle of changing the clock in the car.
A final historical perspective, in 2006 the legislation putting Indiana into statewide DST passed the Indiana House by one vote. The fence sitting Republican legislator didn’t want to vote for it because his constituents didn’t want it. Governor Daniels did some political arm twisting on the first term GOP legislator and he ultimately voted in favor of daylight savings time. His constituents remembered that fall and sent a Democrat to the statehouse in the November 2006 election.
(Our thanks to our news information partner the Kokomo Tribune for sharing many of these observations.)